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      Fans propel Toledo to #1 minor league market

      Fifth Third Field

      Despite job losses and a losing record, baseball and hockey fans have placed Toledo on the map, making it the Top Minor League Market in the country.

      The honors come from Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal (SBJ) which has named Toledo to the top of its list for 2013.

      Fans in northwest Ohio have supported the Toledo Mud Hens and Toledo Walleye through both winning and losing seasons, and with a declining Toledo population.

      Rankings are determined by fan base, attendance, tenured clubs, and the economy.

      "The market's No. 1 ranking validates the team's significant investment in market research and staff training," says Joe Napoli, President and General Manager, Mud Hens and Walleye. "Community support for the two teams has never been higher. Fans come to both Fifth Third Field and the Huntington Center with family, friends and business associates knowing it's a good value and an exciting experience."

      This is the first year, since the list began in 2005, that Toledo has been ranked number one out of 235 communities nationwide. The Glass City was ninth in the survey's first year and fell to number 77 in 2007. By 2011, Toledo ranked 13."Toledo has lost jobs and residents, and championships on the field have been few and far between," said SportsBusiness Journal research director David Broughton. "Despite these challenges, or maybe because of them, fans of the Mud Hens and Walleye have set the standard for team support."

      Other cities at the top of the list include Rochester, NY; Hershey-Harrisburg, Penn.; San Bernardino County, Calif.; Springfield, Mass.; Syracuse, NY; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Des Moines, IA; Spokane, Wash.; and Sioux Falls, SD.


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